Archive for December, 2021

I’m sharing this photo of the masterpiece Rig at Sunset. Next year, BOE will explore the painting’s symbolism and cultural significance.

May the glow of Rig at Sunset guide, comfort, and inspire you in 2022! 😃

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Quite a bit per the GAO, and their report only deals with DOE management of demonstration projects. The Infrastructure Bill authorizes $2.5 billion for commercial projects (and much more for other CCS purposes).

DOE provided nearly $684 million to eight coal projects, resulting in one operational facility. Three projects were withdrawn—two prior to receiving funding—and one was built and entered operations, but halted operations in 2020 due to changing economic conditions. DOE terminated funding agreements with the other four projects prior to construction.

DOE provided approximately $438 million to three projects designed to capture and store carbon from industrial facilities, two of which were constructed and entered operations. The third project was withdrawn when the facility onto which the project was to be incorporated was canceled.


So DOE’s actual success ratio was 0.182 (2 for 11) – not very compelling.

With regard to proposals for offshore carbon sequestration, who will be liable for future cost overruns, operating losses, infrastructure failures including pipeline and well leaks, and decommissioning costs? Who ensures that there will never be any leakage from CO2 disposal reservoirs? Does all of this fall on the Federal government?

Corporations that want to engage in carbon sequestration for commercial or other purposes should fund the projects with their own revenues or fees charged to the companies whose emissions they are collecting. The Outer Continental Shelf is publicly owned and those wishing to dispose of substances should pay a usage fee, be responsible for all costs, and be liable for pollution and damages.

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Boats survey behind the surf with oil rigs in the background.
LA Times
Courage stopped O.C. oil platform blowout – Orange County Register

Per the LA Times, a DCOR pipeline has been identified as the source of a sheen in California State waters near Bolsa Chica State Beach. The pipeline transports oil from Platform Eva. All platform and pipeline operations in the vicinity have ceased.

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Taylor Energy’s Mississippi Canyon Block 20 “A” platform was destroyed by a massive mudslide during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 (see illustrations below). Per Naval Research Laboratory sensors, “Ivan the Terrible” generated freak waves as high as 91 feet, and NRL computer models suggest that wave heights may have exceeded 130 feet. The changes in pressure resulting from the motion of the huge waves triggered the flow of the unstable Mississippi delta sediments. The platform was swept 500 feet downslope and the wells were severed and buried under a deep layer of sediment. That was essentially the end for Taylor Energy, as the company would spend the next 17 years locating and plugging wells, decommissioning piping, collecting seepage, and mitigating pollution. Since 2008, when Taylor sold its remaining oil and gas assets, the company has been solely engaged in the MC-20 response.

Illustration of the collapsed well jacket and damaged pipes from Taylor Energy’s Mississippi Canyon 20 Platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
NOAA illustration

Last week, Taylor and the Justice Department signed a consent degree that transfers the company’s remaining assets and control of the decommissioning trust fund to the Federal government. Questions remain as to whether the platform and wells could have been better designed to withstand the mudslide (note that the platform was installed and operated by BP prior to being sold to Taylor), and whether more should have been done to mitigate the seepage. Taylor does a good job of making its case at their response website.

Few offshore operators would argue that what happened to Taylor couldn’t happen to them. That would be brash and foolish. Hopefully, the companies that remain have absorbed the lessons of MC-20 and are applying them to their operations and management programs.

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Merry Christmas from BOE!


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An old offshore platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is set to be converted into a working fish farm, creating a blueprint for future aquaculture re-use projects and providing repurposing options for old oil and gas assets.

Creating blueprint for reusing old oil & gas assets in Gulf of Mexico
Station Padre

Congratulations to the Gulf Offshore Research Institute (GORI) and Innovasea on their plans to transform an offshore Texas gas platform into a working fish farm.

For the complete list of alternative uses for offshore oil and gas platforms, see our Rigs-to-Reefs+++ page.

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Norway's Supreme Court set to rule on whether the country can keep  searching for new Arctic oil
V. Belov, Shutterstock photo, Norway

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New PHMSA (DOT) regulation

At the behest of Congress, coastal areas and beaches are now designated as Unusually Sensitive Areas (USAs). Given that any offshore liquids pipeline has the potential to affect coastal waters or beaches, the rule would seem to require that all such pipelines be included in Integrity Management Programs, which are mandatory for pipelines that could affect USAs. (The IMP requirements would almost certainly apply to all DOT regulated offshore pipelines. Their applicability to DOI/producer pipelines is less certain. Of course, very little is clear and consistent in US offshore pipeline regulation.)

As one would expect, the recent Huntington Beach pipeline spill is among the incidents cited in the justification for this regulation. More surprisingly, the Santa Barbara well blowout was also cited. This incident occurred 53 years ago, was the result of a reckless drilling program, and had nothing to do with production operations or pipelines.

As noted in a recent BOE post, the regulatory regime for offshore pipelines is badly in need of overhaul. DOT and DOI, with inconsistent jurisdictional boundaries, regulations, and approaches, have primary responsibility and multiple regulatory entities have roles.

Lastly, PHMSA seems to have inadvertently posted a highlighted copy of the new regulation. Nothing at all scandalous (looks like someone was highlighting potential talking points), but possibly amusing to other regulation nerds. 😃

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Carbon capture and storage

Several actors have approached the ministry with a desire to be allocated two specific areas for storage of CO 2 . One area in the North Sea and one in the Barents Sea were therefore announced on 10 September in accordance with the storage regulations.

By the application deadline of 9 December, the ministry had received applications from five companies. The Ministry will process the received applications and allocate area in accordance with the storage regulations during the first half of 2022.

Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Norway

Contrast the situation in Norway with Exxon’s apparent attempt to acquire 94 Gulf of Mexico leases at Oil and Gas Lease Sale 257 solely for CCS purposes. BOEM’s Notice of Sale made no mention of CCS, and there had been no environmental or economic assessment of CCS activity.

And how much will the public pay for grand CCS ventures that (although interim measures) will take years to initiate, add new safety and environmental risks, and may never achieve their objectives? The public burden will no doubt include direct subsidies, tax credits, increased petrochemical prices, and the erosion of purchasing power associated with the resulting inflation pressures.

More on Sale 257 and the CCS bidding.

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Vaccine mandate revived.

WSJ story on oilfield workers. Highlights:

  • Many oil workers are skeptical of the mandate and have warned they will quit
  • Ann Fox, chief executive of Nine Energy Service estimates that <15% of the company’s field workers are vaccinated.
  • Justin Clark, a field services manager understands why workers resist:

“I don’t like to be forced to do anything. I almost want to just do the opposite when someone tells me, in that manner, you’ve got to do this.”


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